Our Meaningless Lives

Monday, January 28th, 2013

I was lucky to grow up with a mom that was…how do I say this…well, different. From the music she listened to, her fascination with testing her financial limitations, to the car she drove, she was different from any of the other moms I knew. She had an unwavering curiosity and sometimes a mild depression due to the harsh reality that was often casted over her unique idealism.

She would tell me things like: “I don’t want you to simply be happy, I want you to do more, to help the people of the world” and “You were made for this world”. These declarations were difficult to absorb being kid whose main objective was to fit in.

Today, her impact on me stretches throughout my life in all areas whether I like it or not. Some of her notions I reject while others I embrace; I believe she doesn’t want it any other way.

One of her passions in particular has always captivated me. She has a profound admiration for her heroes. Thinkers, artists, social reformers that she studies diligently. Books by Nietzsche, Aristotle, Carl Jung and others were consistently sprawled out throughout the house.

I often neglected one of her heroes for no particular reason. Maybe because he was a scientist, or possibly because he didn’t date back to antiquity or the enlightenment. However, Carl Sagan was never on my radar no matter how often she spoke about him in all his awesomeness.

Recently, I have bore witness to his awesomeness. His pleasant exterior patented by his combed over hair and softening smile, coupled with his syrupy voice made him science’s perfect ambassador. His ability to captivate even the most apathetic reader or viewer was a product of his tremendous storytelling ability. Sagan’s purpose was to integrate science into mainstream thought and practices. He challenged our beliefs all while strengthening our faith in our race.

One of his messages in particular struck me at my core.

Man’s search for meaning is a journey that pervades all of humanity. We have created gods, doctrinal stories, and religions to explain worldly phenomena and to give meaning to our lives. Institutions have been created to spread these ideas far and wide and to establish a sense of community that fortifies these ideas. Some people cultivate a more self-derived sense of purpose, which is a more postmodern approach that people like my mother harness to create meaning.

Sagan believed that manmade creations of meaning are often misguided. Science has constantly debunked comforting explanations of our existence; explanations that lead us to believe we’re in control of the universe. Science has the agency to scrutinize everything from concepts we have been indoctrinated with to conclusions deduced by using the scientific method. This leads us to the question: what did Sagan believe science was telling us about our purpose?

He believed science tells us that there is no greater purpose. That life is empty and meaningless. That humanity represents a miniscule microbe of the universe and is therefore relatively insignificant.

This is a terrifying idea to entertain.

Our lives are made of meaning, reasons, and fate. Does this mean that we live in a perpetual lie? Or does it mean that we have to reject the virtues of science to live worthy lives?

What it means is nothing. This statement has no meaning. No meaning gives way to emptiness and emptiness gives way to possibilities.

We as humans should not fear the unknown, our insignificance, or the cosmos. We instead should embrace the emptiness that exists. We should recognize and leverage the unlimited possibilities that this empty space yields.

As Sagan put it: “We are the custodians of life’s meaning”. There is no comic creator of meaning; we are the creators and purveyors of our very own purpose. What can possibly be more empowering than this?

So embrace god, your family, your relationships, your life’s mission—in this world, the possibilities of meaning are endless. Live big and bold lives that extend beyond the imaginable and inspire the minds and souls of others.

“If we crave some cosmic purpose, than let us find ourselves a worthy goal” -Carl Sagan

Thank you to my mother for helping shape my life’s purpose. Your influence has given me the strength and wisdom to live beyond my ephemeral self.

Prayer, Voice, Solution, Understanding

Saturday, December 15th, 2012


When I got the news yesterday, I reacted like  everyone else.  I was overwhelmed with sadness, anger, but most of all, a numbing feeling of “what the fuck!”.

I wanted to speak out, to do something, but given my emotional state, I didn’t join the discussion, as nothing productive would have came from it.  So I sat in prayer for the children, their families and for us as a society to seek reform at the root.

Much of the discussion seems to be about when to speak, and when not to.  The thing is, our voices are the most significant democratic tools we have.  To withhold thoughts, to avoid proposing solutions to an epidemic of this significance is to be sheep, it is to allow that feeling of numb I had pervade.

With that being said, it’s of extreme importance to acknowledge what our words and thoughts project into the world.  Anger is the protagonist of violence, blame creates further separation from what can be if we create collective understanding.  These tragedies are a product of this form of hate and misunderstanding.

I believe gun regulations should be extremely strict, I believe the treatment of mental illness should be integrative and holistic.  Above all, I believe in the need to create a more equitable world.  Media that glorifies  violence and status creates a separatist mentality, one of exclusion.  Watch Bravo for 2 minutes or our most recent machine gun heavy movie trailers and wonder why kids at school are excluded and young men are in a constant state of “proving themselves”.  How about the shrinking middle class and the starving poor.  The neo-liberal economic policies that keep the flow of money moving up with little to no trickle down.  These are all factors in the creation and conservation of inequity and therefore discontent in our country and the world.

We don’t know why this happened, we shouldn’t pretend to know.  However, we should be committed to understanding.  Understanding societal discontent, understanding these acts of violence, understanding the pain these families are going through.

All my love goes out to the family of those affected and the rest of the universe.

Advice for Success: Burn Your Ships!

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

After searching the term “Burn Ships” in Google I can see I am not the only one to touch on this  familiar “how to be successful” anecdote.  But hey…just because it’s played often does not mean it’s played out (I mean how many times have you listened to “Regulators”?…timeless)

The “burning of the ships” came about in a discussion I had with my best friend Daniel Gibson.  We chatted about a whole bunch of things…including my poor grammar and spelling  (sorry guys).  The final points we touched on were success, passion and complacency. Daniel felt that in pursuit of living a life you love…you need to rid yourself of any options to live any other type of life (if that make sense). Meaning, that we have a choice in the matter…a choice to not leave complacency or apathy as an option. A choice to live your version of success at all cost.

The “burning of the ships” comes to play in a relatable story that I heard a few years back. A historic event that I actually despise (Spanish imperialism in South America)…but nonetheless it happened and paints a very strong picture when it comes to firming you commitment to success.

Side Note: Not sure how accurate my portrayal of the story is:

Hernán Cortés led the conquistadors over to South America with the goal of finding and claiming the “New World”. He understood that the task would be looked at as insurmountable by most. He understood that to pull this off…he would need to kill off all excuses, plan B’s and reasons for failure. So he did just that. He sunk his own ships. He ordered his commanders (or whatever) to sink the ships so there was not conceivable way they can cross the ocean and go back to Spain. That stimulated a simple but extremely powerful mindset shift…that shift was that there are no other options. We win or we die. Defeat, failure, passivity were not options if they wanted to survive.

When it comes to our case we’re not taking about survival. We’re living in a space of abundance where there are unlimited possibilities. However the primary message still applies to our lives. What are our ships? Is it saying: “I can do that someday” or is it saying: “it doesn’t matter”…or is it just being mediocre. Living in a world of abundance haunts us with the “privilege” of building many ships. On the flip, our world also enables us to create anything we want.

So whatever your ships are..sink them. If not for yourself do it for the Aztec people that were killed by the Spaniards and would have loved to have sunk their ships for them :).

We are the creators of our journey and our results…if we take ownership of that…we can accomplish anything!

Note: This was one of my contributions to the SF Mastermind Group.

Simplifying Leadership

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Here are some spontaneous thoughts I had leadership and wrote in my note book.  Here they are transcribed and polished (not much) for the blog.

Leadership needs to be different…now more than ever.  Many people realize this, many have stated this, some say our world is not working effectively therefore we need to lead differently.  I personally believe that leadership needs to be simplified.  Simplified to a level where ever single person on this earth considers themselves to be leaders.  Leadership as related to a group should be treated as marketing as related to a company…all encompassing.  Everything a company does creates a reflection of that company; therefore each action can be considered a form of marketing…good or bad.  Leadership should be treated the same way: every specific action a member of a group makes is a form of leadership…good or bad.  Ever decision made by one person has an impact the whole…from the top to the bottom of the group.  If we consider this we are far more likely to be more aware of the actions we take and the decisions we make.  We can step into the shoes of our groups and see how we affect them…their happiness, fulfillment, productivity, creativity and all else.

Leadership starts with accountability and it ends with it too.  It is created with questions like:

“What does my teammate need that will make a difference?”

…”How do my actions impact the team?”

…”How am I perceived?”

…”How can we all align under one strong vision?”

Leadership should be simple…be aware, be yourself, hold yourself accountable, and occupy the space of others.


Searching for a Heart of Gold

Friday, December 10th, 2010


My mom has always been a huge Neil Young fan…beyond HUGE.  We even watched the Super Bowl at his house when my brother and I were kids since our families had mutual friends.  My whole life I just thought he was a semi-aloof artist with an very interesting voice.  Today I listened…truly listened to Heart of Gold for the first time in my life.  I have heard the song hundreds of times with my mom humming along and archaically drumming on the counter tops while she cleaned the kitchen…but never really listened.

What I heard today was a song about the seeking nature of human beings.  The seeking nature to do good with no authentic reason why.  Something I have struggled with for the past couple years.

For the past couple years I have been seeking to embody my mantra of “adding unique value” to this world.  Deciding to make an impact as an entrepreneur I quickly found that I had to look beyond my own self fulfillment and focus on making a positive  impact on the world (as my entrepreneurial efforts had an adverse impact on my bank account and many other personal areas).  However, I have not been able to tap into a genuine state of generosity where what I do is fully for others.  Stuck in my mind I guess…not giving myself enough credit for giving and always needing to give more and focus outside myself…funny enough all these thoughts have been me motoring my own self worth (see the paradox?).

I have been able to find a ton of happiness in becoming a contributor.  By focusing outside myself allows me to be more present…happiness is in the present.  Happiness I am finding is becoming a contributor outside of ego.  I think this is the state of “being” Neil was searching for.

Listen to the song…it’s amazing!!


Soooo Right On

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

*The Holstee Manifesto….

Thanks Ashil!

Mind Cubes…Worse Than Office Cubicles

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

the brain

The feeling of being lost within your own mind is one of the most helpless and common feelings people encounter.  Some people accept it as commonplace, others struggle to find a way out.  The best you can do is find some type of clarity within a system that promotes segmentation… existential enough for you?  What I am saying is that we are all products of our environment, anenvironment that is governed by a system that is not the most nurturing place for the thinking mind.  The product that the system typically creates is one of segmentation and mental clutter…what I now refer to as mental cubes.

Over the past couple months I have noticed a lack of focus and decisiveness in my mental processes.  Being committed to multiple businesses, creative projects, research and other more leisurely endeavors has split me into so many mental cubes that it has limited my ability to think and produce.  Not being able to produce at the level I expect from myself has created a subtle yet constant anxiety…and thus the perpetuation of the segmented mind.

Being aware of your mind’s deficiencies does not solve the problem.  Even while writing this post I am being distracted away from obtaining deep thought.  Phone’s buzzing, browser tabs just asking me to click on them…the life and times.

When it comes to the segmentation of thought I often think of office cubicles and the managers that run the office.  In a corporate office you have hundreds of employees occupying hundreds of cubicles.  From a high level the office looks a successfully organized ecosystem.  You have this team here to communicate with this team, for this reason…it all makes sense.  However, when you step down from the ivory tower you truly witness the chaos, hundreds of individuals all with their own tasks to complete and goals to reach.  There may be some general method to the madness but the more you view everything on a macro level you understand everybody and every cube is so different from one another.  Managers who try to control everything have control problems.  However, managers who focus on one objective or one theme unifying can manage from a distance with a sense of clarity.

With all that being taken into account it’s time to become minimalistic, it’s time to create a unifying theme.  There is a place outside the cube…there is a place where mental clarity and deep thought can be reached…one thing at a time.

When Do You Know You’re an Entrepreneur?

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

As an “aspiring” entrepreneur I constantly asked myself,  “How do I know that I am an entrepreneur?”.  Being conditioned to “know” something is something through tangible and transitional reasoning I had no way of identifying myself as an entrepreneur.

Today I can confidently say that I am an entrepreneur. I am one, because I say I am, I feel I am and I make a unique contribution to the world.

Here’s me diving deeper into this topic…

When did you know you were an entrepreneur?  What is an entrepreneur in your mind?

Success Is…

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Success Ebook Cover

In the spirit of the launch of the free  Success E-book by 30 of the worlds most awesome bloggers!  Here is my take on the all encompassing yet hard to define term “success”.

The Marriam Webster Dictionary defines success as the following:

favorable or desired outcome; also : the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence

Well Marriam and Webster whoever you are…I beg to differ…

Success is commonly defined as a destination, an outcome, basically a single point.  That destination is typically determined by the money, status and/or power that the successful person has obtained.  There are some obvious problems with this positioning of the concept of success:

1st: If success is a single point in the road, what was before it and what follows after it?  Every successful person (by societal standards) knows that success was not achieved at one single point in their journey.  It was achieved by failing, stumbling and learning a 1,000 times before you “succeed”. Telling successful people they have “made it” and now “succeeded” is a completely backhand bitch slap to the face of any person who has spent hours grinding, months flat broke and have had their decisions questioned by many of their loved ones.  Those truly successful people have always known they were successful regardless of their external life situation.  They also know that passion does not relinquish once you “make it”.

2nd: Who chose these metrics?  Money, status and power not only focus on the outward and some what superficial nature of success but it excludes millions of successful people that work under a different set of metrics.  Simply reflect on the accomplishments of Mahatma Gandhi.  An individual with little money, status or power led one of the largest political and spiritual movements the world has ever witnessed.  Marriam Webster would fail to declare Gandhi as a “successful” individual.  Live by your own metrics of success not anyone elses!

Without future addo here is how I define success:

-Success is loving who you are and being proud of what you contribute to the world. Achieve it by doing what you love, surrounding yourself with people you love and not settling for ordinary.

Download the free Ebook and checkout what to success is to 29 other successful bloggers.  Don’t forget to checkout the brain child of this collaborative project, Jonny at The Life Thing.

Why the Grateful Dead are the Pioneers of Social Media

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

dancing bears

This post was inspired by my Deadhead mother who has helped shaped my life in the most interesting of ways. I love you so much mom :)

For those readers that don’t know the Grateful Dead, you will sure know some cultural staples they have helped cultivate, like the Tie-dyed shirts, music file sharing, hippies, and the classic jam session. Simply stated, they are easily one of the most influential bands of all time while taking a different approach from the rest. This post represents a revelation I had which revealed that the Grateful Dead go far beyond their iconic rock and roll status. They created music that not only represented their time but created a movement that was far ahead of its time:

Growing up in a house littered with stickers of dancing bears and skulls, it’s an understatement to say that I was a bit embarrassed of my Deadhead roots. Having a Dead Head mom, I was immersed in a world of music, singing, stack and stacks of cassette tape and peculiar tape traders (don’t ask). The longer I live more I realize that the Dead are embedded within by DNA…and no I am not saying this because I just acquired a bongo drum.

After a weekend coffee shop stop with my mom, I noticed the uncanny parallels between her lifelong journey of Dead Headness and my Social Media passions and work. She constantly shares music with other Deadheads while I constantly share interesting content through the web. She meets interesting people from groups across the country to talk about the Grateful Dead while I meet interesting people on Twitter in hopes of sparking up meaningful relationships. She gets into the zone by turning their music up full blast and humming along while I get in the zone by turning on some Calm Meditation on Pandora and blogging up a storm. I guess we’re not so different after all.

The more I spoke with my mom the more I understood the fundamental implications the Dead have on our Social Media Culture. I am a believer…they are the pioneers of Social Media… (more…)

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